The History of Women for FSU

By: Abby Folsome

What started as an assembly of women has transformed into an organization of more than 1,100 members and affiliates known today as Women for Florida State University.

The initiative began in 2005 with the first Women and Philanthropy Seminar hosted by the FSU Foundation. Dr. Penny Ralston, who served as dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences; Joyce Miles, board member for the College of Health and Human Sciences; and Pat Ramsey of the FSU Foundation, invited FSU deans and donors to a seminar featuring the nationally recognized Sondra Shaw Hardy. Sondra spoke about the national emphasis on women and their unique approach to philanthropic giving, gaining attendees' appreciation for Florida State’s history of exceptional alumnae.

Inspired by the seminar, former First Lady Virginia Wetherell gathered a group of women again in 2008 to officially establish Women for FSU. As part of the FSU Foundation, W4FSU has continued to grow their endowment, approximately valued at $325,000, that provides support for the Women’s Leadership Institute in partnership with FSU’s Center for Leadership & Social Change. WLI additionally receives support from the Levine/Tully Family Fund. Currently led by an executive board, W4FSU has expanded to include six committees, the formation of regional groups and implemented a bi-annual newsletter highlighting recent updates and campus involvement to members.

W4FSU’s annual signature event—Backstage Pass to the Very Best of Florida State—was planned with the idea in mind to bring women together for a weekend on campus every spring. The first Backstage Pass was held in March 2010 and continues to feature an evening reception, tours of different colleges and units, lunch and learn sessions and hands-on activities and experiences to provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the University’s programs. Our goals of engagement and advocacy culminate during an award ceremony on Saturday evening honoring the recipient of the annual Gift of Wisdom Award, created to identify notable women who embody the mission of W4FSU. Through this reuniting of alumnae and friends and impressed by the organization’s mission, former FSU President Dr. Eric Barron and First Lady Molly Barron contributed the initial endowment for W4FSU.

The mission of W4FSU is to engage women who have a passion for FSU by fostering friendship and community; to educate women on different ways of investing in the University; and to celebrate women who serve as mentors and role models and make a difference in other women’s lives.

Together, our efforts have developed a culture where women are generously more engaged with Florida State. Visit Women for Florida State University to learn more about how to get involved.